Miss Julie

by

August Strindberg

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Themes and Colors
Biology vs. Society Theme Icon
Natural vs. Unnatural Womanhood Theme Icon
Class  Theme Icon
Dominance vs. Submission Theme Icon
Confinement and Escape Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Miss Julie, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Biology vs. Society

In the preface to Miss Julie, August Strindberg explains that his play is a “Naturalist Tragedy.” Strindberg, who is considered one of the foremost naturalist playwrights of his era, was concerned with creating theater that was highly realistic, with characters who were complex and flawed. However, Strindberg also refers to the play as “naturalist” because he viewed Miss Julie and Jean as two characters whose innate natures are betrayed by the way they have each…

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Natural vs. Unnatural Womanhood

In Strindberg’s preface to Miss Julie, he explains that one of the themes he is intent on exploring in the play is the fact that, despite his low birth, Jean’s maleness makes him a “sexual aristocrat” and biologically superior to Miss Julie. This discussion is complimented by the pervasive distinctions that Strindberg draws throughout the play between what is “natural” and “unnatural” behavior for women. In his preface, Strindberg explains that Miss Julie…

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Class

Miss Julie is a drama about class difference. From the moment the aristocratic Miss Julie allows herself to sleep with a servant, she has fallen from grace. In his preface, Strindberg addresses “the innate or acquired sense of honor that the upper classes inherit,” which he believed compelled the nobility to sacrifice everything to preserve their reputation, even if it meant losing their life. Julie therefore, falls victim to the inflexible idea of upper-class honor…

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Dominance vs. Submission

At its heart, Miss Julie is a play about two people that are struggling to attain and maintain dominance over one another. Julie uses her nobility and sexuality to dominate Jean, driven by what Strindberg, in his preface, identifies as her aggressive sexuality and her desire to control men. Jean, despite being of lower class, dominates Julie simply by virtue of his masculinity. As Strindberg writes in his preface, “Jean stands above Miss Julie not…

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Confinement and Escape

Despite their vast socioeconomic differences, Miss Julie and Jean come together out of a shared desire to escape their current circumstances. Jean, frustrated with life as a valet on the Count’s estate, dreams of a life managing his own hotel in Romania, while Julie seeks to hide from the pressures of her title, which require her to marry and start a family to continue her father’s line. However, the characters must seek their respective escapes…

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